What a child eats is very important and as a parent, you probably spend countless hours worrying about whether your children are eating enough of the right foods. With babies, it is easy. For the first six months, babies get everything they need from milk. From 4-6 months, you can start introducing solid foods, and by 12 months, children should be eating a varied, nutritious diet.
Milk and Dairy
Milk and dairy are extremely important for growing children, as they get a lot of nourishment from milk, cheese, and yoghurt. Children under two should only drink full-fat milk. Three servings of milk and dairy per day are recommended. Most kids love to drink milk, but if your children are not so keen, milk puddings, full-fat natural yoghurt mixed with fruit and full-fat cheeses are a great alternative.
Protein is essential for growing kids. Protein contains the building blocks of life: Amino Acids. Sufficient protein is necessary for bone health and brain development.
Animal proteins are the best, so milk, yoghurt and cheese are all important, but you should also include eggs and chicken in your child’s diet. Plant proteins such as lentils, tofu and soya are less effective, but they can also be added to the diet.
Fat is very important, but it has to be the right kind of fat. Healthy fats such as butter, olive oil, and ghee help children to feel full after meals, which prevents weight problems from becoming an issue. There is also a link between consumption of healthy fats and improved concentration.
To ensure adequate consumption of healthy fats, include oily fish, nuts, avocado, olive oil, and butter in your child’s diet, but try to limit their consumption of unhealthy fats such as margarine, vegetable oils and processed foods.
All kids need some carbohydrates in their diet. Carbohydrates are a source of energy. Complex carbohydrates break down slowly and provide a long-term supply of energy whereas simple carbohydrates give kids a quick burst of energy.
Whereas adults need wholegrain carbs, younger children do not digest wholegrains as well and they should therefore avoid them. Carbohydrates are found in bread, rice, pasta and other grains. Fruits and vegetables are another healthy source of carbohydrates. Cakes, biscuits and sugar-laden breakfast cereals are likely to be popular with your child, but do not let them eat too many ‘bad’ carbs.
Vitamins and Minerals
Iron deficiency is common in school-age children, particularly girls. Red meat and green leafy vegetables are a good source of iron. Zinc is also very important. Adequate zinc in the diet improves memory and performance in class. Zinc is found in fortified breakfast cereals, nuts, beans and peas. Growing kids also need adequate calcium in their diet.
It is not always easy to encourage growing kids to eat a healthy diet. Many children much prefer sugary snacks and soda to a plate of meat and vegetables, so lead by example and if you are concerned about your child’s nutritional intake, give them a daily multi vitamin and mineral pill from vitaliving.com.